In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves, Pep Guardiola insists he is focusing on the players ahead of the Manchester derby, not Jose Mourinho.
Guardiola has lost only three of his 16 meetings with Mourinho as a manager, winning seven and drawing six, and the two managers face off on Saturday at Old Trafford in the Premier League for the first time, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
But the Spaniard insists the matters on the pitch will take centre stage once the first whistle blows.
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He told Shreeves: « At the end of the day it’s my players play against their players, and the end of the day that’s what’s important.
« There were a lot of games between me and him. He wanted to win, and I wanted to win. It’s part of our job.
« I have respect for my colleagues, I try to have a good relationship with them, and of course they want to win, and sometimes you make actions in the game in the moment and I understand that.
« I come here to be coach of Manchester City and train these players, that’s the reason I am here.
Man Utd vs Man City
September 10, 2016, 11:30am
« Tomorrow is a derby at Old Trafford against one of the biggest teams in the world, we’re playing away. I see the players, [Eric] Bailly, [Daley] Blind, the goalkeeper, the full-backs, [Marouane] Fellaini, [Paul] Pogba, I see that.
« In these last days analysing United I was focused on Jose and their team, and from experience I know what he likes to do on the pitch, and when Mr Clattenburg decides to start the game we will be focused on the game, not my colleague. »
It will be Guardiola’s first taste of a Premier League derby, and by far City’s biggest test under his management,
The City boss is relishing the clash against the side the bookies believe are their main rivals for the Premier League title.
« [The atmosphere] should be good, fascinating, it’s a derby and I think United respect us, what City did in the last six or seven years. A good atmosphere, good talent on the pitch, and for England, for the world, it would be good.
« It’s a pleasure, we are lucky guys to be there in front of the millions and millions watching us. »
Asked if he will tell his players anything different before the game, Guardiola said: « I say be calm, more relaxed, not too much information. It’s the first time we’ve played against United and the players must know what to do, to know what’s going to happen.
« And after, just play, go for some instructions, and then the personality and character in the sense of being brave, not to be afraid, and to have the ball and play. »
Guardiola’s City have a 100 per cent record so far, and the 45-year-old is looking for a fourth straight domestic title as a manager.
Similarities between his team set-ups at Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have been noted so far, and Guardiola says the fundamentals of his style have been transferred.
« The fundamentals, the principal idea it’s the same between Barcelona, Bayern and here. What changes is the quality of players, » he added.
« The fundamentals, what I want, which is to take the ball, try to play as offensive as possible and dominate the game through the ball, is the same. I grew up with that, I was a player with that idea, and I am a coach with that idea. »